The contribution of youth work to young people’s employability is framed in the literature as deficit reduction and soft skills development through youth work practice (Souto-Otero, 2016). This research interrogated English youth work professionals’ conceptualisation of the contribution of youth work to young people’s employability. The role of youth work in young people’s employability was theorised. A subtle realist social constructionist methodology (Elder-Vass, 2012) was used for the investigation and analysis of the perceptions of fourteen English youth work professionals, through semi-structured interviews. The research examined the constituent conceptualisations of youth, youth work, employability and contribution in the literature and youth work professionals’ perceptions. The ensuing conceptual framework supported the thematic analysis of participants’ perceptions of that contribution. The research examined three frames of understanding of the youth work contribution: a Deficit, an Asset-based and a Developmental Frame and three accompanying drivers of value(s), change and growth. The research highlighted the three associated approaches of these frames to youth work practice and theorised the youth work contribution to young people’s employability as a process based on those approaches to practice and youth work values and principles (NYA, 2020). The study identified a gap between youth work professionals’ and the policy model of the youth work contribution to young people’s employability. The contemporary policy construction of that contribution as deficit reduction and skills development was challenged with the theorisation of a Holistic Frame of the youth work contribution to young people’s employability derived from participant data. Analysis of participant data revealed that this construction of the youth work contribution to young people’s employability defined a clear role for youth work in that contribution. The implications of this youth work role for youth work policy, education, and practice were identified to enable them to effectively address issues of young people’s employability and (un)employment.
|Date of Award||8 Sep 2023|
|Supervisor||Paul Thomas (Main Supervisor) & Helen Jones (Co-Supervisor)|